July 4, 2018

Speaking at Launch of Coal Mine Surveillance & Management System & Mobile App ‘Khan Prahari’

Thank you madam, Secretary Coal, Shri Indrajit Singhji; Chairman Coal India Limited, Shri AK Jhaji; ADG CISF who has joined us today as a representative of the watchful eyes of the CISF; Mr Alok Kumar and ADG PIB, Shrimati Smita Vats Sharmaji; officials from different states, officials from the coal companies, friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen.

Illegal mining is something about which, of course, a lot of stories have been spoken about. But there have also been many films made on illegal mining. I remember a conversation I had with Mr Amitabh Bachchan when he was recounting his old days when he was not in the film industry, but was working for one of the Kolkata traders in the coal business. And he shared with me his experience about how as a coal trader it was important for him to actually go into the mining areas. In those days, largely, mining was underground mining, and they had to go down onto the mines and he actually showed me how they would go, on their back, on the rail cars in the underground mines and go and select which coal they will purchase which can give them a fair value.

Probably, ‘Kaala Patthar’ was inspired by his own personal experiences in the coal mines, because he really played a fantastic role in that movie. On a more recent example, one would look at which movie? The Gangs of Wasseypur I think?

All of these only show us that things have not changed very significantly, probably 50 years later. The fact that even today we have to grapple with a subject like illegal coal mining – of course, many times friends from the media or in parliament we are asked the question ‘how much of mining is illegal’? If I had an answer to that we would not allow that to be carried out. But the general sense we all get is that there is a significant amount of coal that is not fully accounted for. Sometimes, even when it comes to small level illegal mining like one of the gentleman said, from the abandoned mines, or where local people take coal away on cycles and, on the head also? My God!

But then every ounce of this coal that is mined illegally which is not accounted for, which doesn’t result in royalty being paid for the state for carrying out its welfare activities, where the DMF contribution is not paid under the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kalyan Yojana for development of the tribal area where these coal mines are situated. Where taxes are not paid on those mines, where cess is not paid on the coal that is mined.

In some sense, illegal mining has two very serious dimensions; one is of course evasion of taxes and the value of the coal. There is also a huge dimension of environment. We are actually harming the environment when we allow illegal mining to continue. And, therefore, I am very delighted that Coal India Limited is making an effort through CMPDI. I think somewhat we have drawn from the experience of the Mining Surveillance System (MSS) that was introduced in the Mining Ministry maybe two years ago or so.

And the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics and CMPDI and all their officials truly need to be complimented for the good work they have done in bringing this technology to the coal industry, mapping out all these coal mines and preparing Coal India and the coal sector for a more honest tomorrow.

And I think today, 4th July, being Swami Vivekananda’s death anniversary, it is a fitting tribute to Swami Vivekananda that we are launching these two apps today. Because Swamiji truly stood for the highest levels of integrity, the highest levels of good governance, and was inspirational for the youth of the country in his teachings, in whatever he did through his life.

And, therefore, I hope this effort of Coal India also inspired by Swami Vivekananda will help us change the image of the coal sector, change the way coal mining is done for the better and also help us in protecting the environment. Incidentally, on this day in 1947, the Indian Independence Bill was also presented before the British House of Commons. Now, the two ways of looking at it, the coal sector will get independence from illegal mining, or the illegal miners will get independence from carrying out these activities. And I hope both of them are true. And we can actually have a more honest regime going forward.

I am told the two apps that we have launched today will not only detect the illegal coal mining activity, but will also provide information on the land reclamation that is carried out. And this monitoring of land reclamation is an extremely important part of our work. I have been stressing on it ever since I became Coal Minister, I believe we can do much faster work than what we have done so far. And I believe it is a very important aspect of mining that we invest the money that we collect every year on every ton of coal that we make towards mine closure whenever the mines stop working and towards reclaiming the mined out areas, so that we do not damage the ecology, do not damage the environment.

And I do hope good use will be made of this app by our officials, particularly by CMPDI, to ensure that land reclamation targets are met and land reclamation commitments are fulfilled. Of course, now every citizen will have a right and an opportunity to share with us any instances of illegal mining. We can even share it with all the Members of Parliament some of whom often raise this question or come to us with complaints of illegal mining and encourage more and more people to become whistleblowers, to tell us if any illegal activity is going on in their area.

And I do hope all the officials, the police officials, the officials of our security agency, the CISF, district administrators and the state governments will all help us in verifying these reported activities and taking swift action on them. Maybe at some stage while protecting the whistleblowers identity, we must seriously look at putting this information out in public domain, so that it encourages more people to come up and complain against such illegal activities.

In fact, I remember Prime Minister Modi holding a day-long session with all the senior officials. I don’t know if you had had the occasion to attend that session where PM Modi had said that we must engage with space technology in a big way and see the wonders that space technology can do in our day to day work.  Both earlier in the Mines Ministry and now in Coal – I am delighted that we are using space science, just like Prime Minister had envisioned. We are making use of satellites and the space technologies for peaceful purposes and good purposes, not to spy on other countries and not to spy on the activities of other countries, but to look at what we can do to bring about higher levels of probity in our own country.

And I am very confident that if we all take up the use of these technologies and these two apps with sincerity, it can also help us in a third dimension, which is the effective deployment of our people, what is the efficiency levels of our machinery, how many hours a day do our people really put in hard work, are some of our people doing work which is redundant which could be mechanised, which could be done in a more efficient manner, what is the utilization level of the different expensive machinery that we use in coal mining, are all our trucks being weighed properly when they are leaving, because any movement out of the geo-tagged boundaries will get reported and that can easily through data mining and through an automated system detect whether all the trucks have been properly weighed and have moved out. The time can be matched.

And once we start applying our mind, there will be multifarious ways in which this can be useful. And I do hope our young team of engineers, and I believe all our coal companies have these very bright sprightly youngsters as management trainees and new recruits. I am sure if we give this task to some of them, they will be able to look at how best we can use these technologies.

I am happy to know that we have also developed a CCTV camera system in most of our major mines. I do hope that data is also getting used to ensure that our mining activity is carried out in an organised fashion. I believe some studies have been carried out to see the stock position through drones. I would love to know what has been the outcome of those studies, and whether we have a more confident number when we talk of the stock of coal at the mines and at the pitheads using these new technologies.

The apps today are one amongst a series of launches that we have had in the coal sector. I remember we had used an app for third party sampling also, it was probably called UTTAM, where we were reporting what is the deviation in quality in the coal supplied Vs the coal actually received.

Similarly, we had a Grahak Sadak Koyla Vitaran app, so that people could not jump the queue and transparently everybody could know that they are getting the coal in the order in which they paid for it, so that illegal gratification cannot help you jump the queue.

We had also taken out an app called SEVA – Saral Eindhan Vitaran App, which gave us information of coal movement, how consumer vies from where, what is the source of the coal, what is the mode of transport, train or road, what is the grade of coal that is being given to help our power producers or other users plan their power output and their power plants better.

Why I am reminding you of all these apps is that each one of them has helped us significantly in serving our consumers better. After all, these days you don’t hear the complaints you used to hear earlier about coal quality. I do not think we hear any more the kind of complaints that I used to get when I first became a Minister. Almost every second meeting used to be about bad quality of coal or boulders coming in the coal, or grade slippage – 2 levels, 3 levels sometimes 6 levels.

But being a monopoly Coal India could get away with any supply, because what would the poor buyer do? If he complained, he wouldn’t get coal the next day. This government changed the rules of the game in the coal industry. We ensured that everybody got the right quality of coal and he got the quality of coal that he paid for. And thanks to that I believe the consumption of coal has fallen by 8 or 10% across the country for every unit of energy that is produced, for every kilowatt hour of power that we produce, is that right Mr Sinha?

About 8% saving of coal, which was no mean achievement. I mean, somebody could jolly well say that it has had a little bit of a dent in the profit of Coal India Limited. But I don’t mind that. I am happy to have caused that dent in the – if I may use a uncharitable word, but since it relates to a period before I became a Minister – to the illegal profits of Coal India Limited. Because after all, when we are not giving them the right coal and we are overcharging them for the quality that they receive, that’s not the kind of business or ethics that we want to give to this world, we want to leave for our next generation to follow.

Probably, all of us on this dais and many of us in the front rows will retire soon, will come of age and maybe move on in life. But certainly, the next generation and most of our friends from the media here in this table at least is the next generation that we are working for – will certainly ask us questions about what we did, what kind of a nation we have left behind for them.

And, therefore, this high degree of transparency is something that I believe was much called for, was the need of the hour, was the call of New India. It was the call that the youth of India today are demanding from governments, from public servants, from business. And, therefore, I am really delighted that all of us collectively are making an effort to make a difference to the way the coal sector works, to the way the coal industry works.

I will take this opportunity to also share with you that we have had a very good quarter, as far as Coal India is concerned. Some of you may recall that in the last quarter of January to March 2018, our financials had shown a pretty significant dip, but I am sure most of you are aware that it was largely because of a Rs 7,500 crore provision, additional provision that was made in the accounts to provide for increased gratuity for the workers and employees of Coal India Limited.

The Modi government has doubled the eligibility of gratuity for all the employees of government and all our public sector undertakings, and the nation as a whole. So in some sense, that was one game changing change or reform or improvement that somehow got missed out in the cacophony that parliament was witnessing in those days. But the doubling of gratuity payable is a great relief for all the people in the country working in government, working in public sector companies, working in private sector companies, because it doubles the amount of gratuity that you can get. The ceiling is doubled.

And in a way it provides for old age security. It provides us capital when we are retiring, which will help us in old age live a decent good quality of life. Again, this was in a series of many actions. We had brought in the minimum pension for everybody in the first year of government. We had introduced One-rank, One-pension for the armed forces – army, navy, air force – defense forces. We had increased minimum wages by 42% at one shot across all sectors. All the coal companies have significantly improved both the salary and the allowances for all our employees. The 7th Pay Commission has been implemented across the country in the central government and most central PSUs – probably the fastest implementation of a Pay Commission between the time it is submitted to the government and it is actually implemented.

So you didn’t have to have strikes and all sorts of dharnas and demands for days and months and years on end before the implementation of the Pay Commission. And in that same spirit, the Coal India employees have also shown that this kind of a responsive government’s efforts will be repaid by the hard work and efforts of the coal employees. And, therefore, I am glad to share with all of you that in the first quarter April to June, for the current financial year, Coal India has produced 136.87 million tonnes of coal which is a growth of 15.2% over the corresponding quarter of last year. I think it must be one of the largest growths in a single quarter that coal production has seen in a long time – 15.2% growth in the first quarter of the current year.

Coal-based power generation in the current year, here I have a figure only up to 28th June, not till 30th, but it was 253.86 billion units, much more than what was projected or planned by the Ministry of Power. If you look at the coal imports during this period by the power sector, steel there would be an increase because coking coal is not available in India and steel is growing very rapidly. The growth in production of steel may have resulted in some increase in coking coal imports, but for the power sector, there has been a reduction in coal imports of 14.7% in April and May, 2018 – 14.7% reduction in coal imports during these first two months.

And in terms of Coal India Limited to the power sector alone, in the first three months, Coal India has dispatched 122.84 million tonnes of coal to the power sector alone, which when compared to the same period last year, which was 106.46 million tonnes. So, nearly 16 million tonnes more has been dispatched to the power sector alone, giving you a growth of dispatch of about 15.4% for the power sector.

I think all of these are truly figures which are very encouraging, and despite very such aggressive growth in power demand, despite such aggressive demand of domestic coal – because after all, even that 14% imported coal reduction, ultimately the burden has fallen – I wouldn’t call it burden, it’s good news for all of us – we got that opportunity to supply it domestically, and therefore, we were able to increase our coal dispatch by 15.4%.

So in every sense of the term, this has been a good quarter for the coal industry and for the domestic power generation industry, and throughout the last 12 months when there has been a uptick in the power demand from domestic coal, even though hydro was falling, even though wind power was falling. We had nuclear out of commission, 2000 MW out of commission for a significant portion of last year. Despite all of that, not for a single day, did any part of the country have power shortfall or have to suffer from power outages because of coal supply.

I am sure the 300,000 people working in the coal industry and the 1.3 million people working in the railways deserve our highest compliments for all the efforts they have put in. I am given to understand that the railways also has significantly ramped up the rakes that they supply. In the year 2017-18, the average rake supplied was 390 per day, giving a growth of 4.6% over the previous year. But in the year 2018-19, for the first three months, April to June, 2018, the average rakes supplied was 428.80 rakes per day, which is a growth of 17.9%. Rake supplied increased by 17.9% in the first quarter.

So, you can see how the collective efforts of all the employees in the coal sector, in the railways has helped us ensure uninterrupted supply of power for industry, for the people of India. And I have no doubt in my mind Mr Jha, under the leadership of both the railways and the Coal Ministries and their respective companies and employees and managers, and the entire team, we will continue to show a significant growth. We will continue to ensure adequate supply of coal to every power plant in the country. And we will continue to see much more robust performance both of Coal India Limited and of the railways going forward.

I am delighted that all your efforts towards rationalization of coal supplies has also come to fruition, nearly 54-55 million tonnes of coal has been rationalized, so that they are supplied from nearer plants. We have now opened up the rationalization arrangement, the methodology for rationalization for independent power producers has also been notified on 15th May, 2018, so that they can also rationalize their linkage and swap their linkages.

So as I said, a lot of things happening in the coal sector, a lot of things happened, a lot of improvement which now doesn’t find mention or space because – not to be quoted but एक बार खा-पीकर हज़म हो जाता है तो उसके बाद फिर वह याद नहीं रहता है कि पहले कितनी indigestion cause करती थी यह problem. तो इसी प्रकार से जो कोयले की कई समस्याएं हमें विरासत में 2014 में मिली थी उसको एक-एक करके समाधान करते हुए जिस प्रकार से आप सबने अपने-अपने काम का निर्वहण किया है, अपनी-अपनी जिम्मेदारियां पूरी तरीके से निभाई हैं उसके लिए देश की जनता की तरफ से मैं आप सबका धन्यवाद करता हूँ और उम्मीद करता हूँ कि आगे भी चलकर इसी लगन के साथ और इसी मेहनत के साथ और भी बड़े रूप में ईमानदारी लाकर जिसमें यह सब ऐप्स आपके मॉनिटरिंग के लिए काम में आयेंगे इन सब ऐप्स का इस्तेमाल करते हुए, नयी टेक्नोलॉजी का इस्तेमाल करते हुए हम लगातार देश और जनता की सेवा करते रहेंगे इस विश्वास के साथ मैं आप सबका बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद करता हूँ |


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